Above: the US Virgin Islands
By the Caribbean Journal staff
A new hotel is coming to the United States Virgin Islands.
US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh announced this week that the Water Island Development Company had been selected to advance a “first-rate resort and hotel project” on Water Island.
The selection came after an expression of interest advertised by the government in the fall of 2013.
“A key project has been to again have a superior resort on Water Island that would complement other hotel offerings, while at the same time realize some meaningful economic activity on the island,” de Jongh said in a statement. “All of this, of course, must be achieved in a manner that maintains what is charming, environmentally appealing and respectful of what the island and community reflect.”
The Governor said the government’s selection was made with the help of REVPAR International, a hotel and development management firm.
He said 10 firms participated in the proposal process, with 8 named hotel brands expressing interest.
The managing member of the Water Island Development Company is Stephen Evans-Freke, principal in St Thomas-based Auven Therapeutics, with development team members including Oeter Briggs, co-owner of John Foster Real Estate, Michael Graves of the Michael Graves Foundation and Bob Jackson, a multi-family developer.
“Our undertaking this project is consistent with our commitment to economic development initiatives, but also with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s requirement when we assumed direct control in 1996 that we promote the economic development of Water Island for the benefit of the entire Virgin Islands and the Water Island residents,” said Lynn Millin Maduro, commissioner of property and procurement. “We have been clear with each respondent on this objective and that community engagement is paramount.”
Water Island was once the site of a hotel property; since Hurricane Hugo destroyed it in 1989, the property has remained vacant and abandoned.
“Water Island boasts one more Virgin Islands opportunity to rebrand the Virgin Islands in one of the world’s most beautiful natural environments, with nearby airport and water transportations, an attractive beach and marina capabilities,” said US Virgin Islands Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “It is a valuable economic asset which will now be strengthened for the economic benefit of our entire territory.”